Stocks slide on China data, pound shoots higher


—File Photo

LONDON: World stock markets mostly fell Thursday on disappointing Chinese economic data, but the pound shot higher after the Bank of England hinted an interest rate hike could soon be on the way.

Asian equities also declined on profit-taking, having rebounded earlier this week on easing North Korea tensions and relief that Hurricane Irma had not been as devastating to Florida as feared.

Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks each slid 0.4 percent in value after a disappointing print on Chinese factory production, retail sales and state investment.

The negative sentiment spilled over into Europe, with Frankfurt stocks down 0.2 percent in afternoon trading, but Paris bucked the trend with a 0.1 percent gain.

The Bank of England (BoE), as expected, maintained its key interest rate at a record-low 0.25 percent despite surging inflation. But analysts remarked that despite no change to the rate at September’s meeting, the tone of the minutes indicated that the BoE was readying for a rate rise.

“The accompanying statement contained some hawkish rhetoric with perhaps the most telling line revealing that all MPC members think that rate hikes will be faster than the current market pricing and this has provided the catalyst for a strong move higher in the pound,” said David Cheetham, chief market analyst XTB online currency trading platform.

Sterling shot up from around $1.32 when the decision was announced to over $1.33.

But that sent London’s FTSE-100 tumbling as many companies listed on the blue-chip index make most of their earnings abroad, and a strong pound dampens profits when they are converted into sterling.

Wall Street dipped at the open.

“US stocks are lower in early action, coming off another record high run, following a hotter-than-expected read on consumer price inflation that may be bringing the Fed back in focus, while the Bank of England’s expected unchanged monetary policy decision hinted at a potential rate hike in the coming months,” said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage.—AFP